The Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) and its national partner, Brainforest co-organised a national policy engagement conference on the 17th January 2020 in Libreville, Gabon. The aim of the event was to explore NGO-state and private sector relationships in the monitoring, control and certification of forests in Gabon. The conference was organised within the framework of the CIDT-led and EU-funded Citizen Voices for Change project; which seeks to strengthen the contribution of non-state actors to improving forest governance in five Congo Basin countries.
Over 100 participants from government, private sector, international development agencies and donor agencies reflected on ways to facilitate collaborative efforts towards improving the sustainable management of forests and its contributions to forest livelihoods. A raft of practical recommendations were generated from the debate, including the call for development of collaborative agreements between national NGOs and governments but increased professionalization in the operation of monitoring organisations.
The conference was opened by the EU Ambassador to Gabon Rosario Bento Pais, who stressed the need for understanding between actors and the stronger role of civil society in monitoring forest law enforcement and governance.
“Forest management is a very important issue for the European Union. The aim here is to encourage good coordination and smooth communication between the administration, civil society and economic operators in the context of independent monitoring of the management of natural resources, in order to achieve the objectives of good governance and sustainable forest management.”
Drawing on research by Dr Aurelian Mbzibain and colleagues at CIDT, the conference provided a unique platform to debate existing roles and relationships between actors and to explore ways of addressing relations which are often conflictual and based on rivalry. In attendance, were project teams from Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.